Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Japan government: Journo held in Syria has been freed



Japan government: Journo held in Syria has been freed

Japan government: Journo held in Syria has been freed

The Japanese government on Wednesday confirmed that a journalist kidnapped in Syria more than three years ago has been freed and is in Turkey.

“We have confirmed the safety of Jumpei Yasuda, who had been held captive in Syria since 2015,” Foreign Minister Taro Kono told reporters.

Japanese officials said late Tuesday they were trying to confirm reports that the 44-year-old freelancer, who was seized in June 2015, had been freed.

Embassy officials visited him at an immigration centre in Antakya in Turkey, and he is expected to return to Japan soon, after health checks.

Yasuda’s wife Myu was appearing live on private station TV Asahi when Kono announced the news.

“Thank you . . . Thank you for praying for him and taking action,” she said in tears.

“I want to see him in good shape. That’s all I want,” Yasuda’s father had told reporters earlier in the day.

Yasuda was thought to have been seized by the group previously known as the Al-Nusra Front, a former Al-Qaeda affiliate, in northern Syria.

However, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, led by Al-Qaeda’s former branch in Syria, denied any involvement in a statement Tuesday.

Al-Qaeda’s former Syria affiliate was known as Al-Nusra Front before it cut ties with the transnational jihadist network in 2016 and changed its name.

In August, videos emerged showing Yasuda and an Italian national, Alessandro Sandrini, appealing for their release.

Both men were wearing orange outfits with armed, masked men standing behind them. The videos did not identify which group was holding the men or include specific demands.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said Tuesday that Yasuda was released under a Turkish-Qatari deal, with some sources saying a ransom had been paid.

But Japan’s top government spokesman denied Wednesday any payment was involved.

“That kind of thing never happened,” Yoshihide Suga told reporters.

In 2015, militants from the Islamic State group beheaded Japanese war correspondent Kenji Goto and his friend Haruna Yukawa in Syria.

The Japanese government was criticised for what detractors saw as its flat-footed response to the crisis at the time, including apparently missed opportunities to free both men.

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia unveils new quarantine regulations

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Cambodia sets new Covid-19 quarantine rules

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Hun Sen: Cambodia set to fully reopen

    Prime Minister Hun Sen concludes that the October 5-7 Pchum Ben public holiday, during which many people either flocked to their hometowns for family reunion or gathered at tourist attractions across the country, has not caused an outbreak of Covid-19. In a special address to

  • Will Evergrande change the way Chinese developers do business in Cambodia?

    China’s property sector policy has exposed the grim financial condition of real estate developers including those operating in Cambodia, which raises questions over the viability of their projects and business going forward The dark blue netting draping over one of Yuetai Group Co Ltd’

  • Cambodia resumes issuance of tourist visas

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has announced the resumption of its tourist visa and visa exemption programme after a long hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In a letter dated October 20 and addressed to foreign embassies and consulates, foreign minister Prak Sokhonn

  • S’ville set to turn into ‘second Shenzhen’

    The Ministry of Economy and Finance has awarded a master plan consultancy contract to top Chinese institute for the development and transformation of Preah Sihanouk province into a “Model Multi-Purpose Special Economic Zone”, Southeast Asia’s next logistics and resort hub and innovation centre. The